In all the excitement of election preparations I have shamefully neglected my blog – no more.
I am back.
What’s more, I believe we are back!
Lisburn’s motto is so appropriate for Ulster Unionism’s position today. After being down for a number of years, we are poised for a big recovery.
I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks engaging with the electorate.
In the Old Warren estate where I was leafleting, I was well received; I chatted to lots of voters; none were hostile.
What a difference a few years makes. In the old days, when I was fighting David’s election battles in Upper Bann, the DUP were there, following us round, giving noisy accompaniment to our canvassing teams – but I haven’t seen sight nor sign of them in Lagan Valley.
And people want to talk: the other night it took me an hour to canvass an estate of 38 houses. It was great to have the time to engage and listen to people’s concerns. So far there are two big issues on the doorstep – the economy and education. We must not ever underestimate the depth of feeling there is against Katriona Ruane’s attempts to destroy our education system.
And on the economy, people are responding to the opportunity we are giving them to get rid of Gordon Brown.
We have agonised for months, if not years about North Down. Now we have a resolution, and we know where we stand. I can’t predict the outcome of the election in that constituency, but if Sylvia is returned, what will she do? Will she sit with labour? Or with the remnants of the DUP? Or will she cut a lonely figure on her own? And will the overwhelmingly conservative leaning electors of North Down be content with that?